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Barth, Derrida and the Language of Theology [Paperback]

By Graham Ward (Author)
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Item description for Barth, Derrida and the Language of Theology by Graham Ward...

This study offers a new and original analysis of the problem of religious language. Taking as its starting point Karl Barth's doctrine of analogy, the author draws parallels between Barth's insights into the language of theology and the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, and concludes that Barth's doctrine of analogy is a theological reading of Derrida's economy of differance. This important interpretation reveals Barth's closeness to postmodern thinking and underlines his relevance to current debates on the language of theology.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Cambridge University Press
Pages   280
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.42" Width: 5.41" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 26, 2004
Publisher   Cambridge University Press
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0521657083  
ISBN13  9780521657082  

Availability  107 units.
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More About Graham Ward

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Graham Ward is Professor of Contextual Theology and Ethics at the University of Manchester. His previous books include Barth, Derrida and the Language of Theology (1995), Theology and Contemporary Critical Theory (1996), The Postmodern God (Blackwell, 1997), Radical Orthodoxy (1998), The Certeau Reader (Blackwell, 1999), Cities of God (2000), The Blackwell Companion to Postmodern Theology (Blackwell, 2001), True Religion (Blackwell, 2002) and Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice (2004).

Graham Ward was born in 1955 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Manchester University of Manchester, UK University of Ma.

Graham Ward has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Rockwell Lectures (Trinity Paperback)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Protestant

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Barth, Derrida and the Language of Theology?

Insightful/infuriating  Apr 3, 2006
I found this book difficult to rate. The book is extremely well written and thoroughly researched. It is concise in its explication and conscience of its direction. Basically, the entirety of the book can be looked at as a thorough deconstruction of Chapter five in the Church Dogmatics. Taking this as a starting point, it proceeds to go backwards to explicate the difficulties that Karl Barth was embedded in and had inherited: starting with Hamaan and ending with Heidegger.

What I like so much about this book was its diachronic analysis of Sprache and Rede (speech and utterance) philosophy. It is very rare in English accounts of speech philosophy to see any detailed exposition of Hamaan, Huessy, or Rozenweig, and it is for that reason alone I would recommend this slender volume (perhaps too slender) to the reader. After Hamaan, Ward differentiates between Hamaan's beloved disciple Herder. Hamaan proposes an anti-rationalist theology that embraces the Christo-Logical in all its undifferentiated contradiction. Herder attempts to systematize Hamaan but ends up receding back into an enlightenment model of thinking.

After Herder we are given a brief sketch of von Humboldt, who derived his philosophy from Kant but appropriated it in his own attempts to understand language. After von Humboldt, we are then given a brief sketch of the Patmos group, which comprised most importantly of Huessy, Rozenweig, Buber, and for a short time Karl Barth. This is again where Ward shines most brightly. I have been reading Huessy for about five years now and Karl Barth for about three and biographers of both of these men have alluded to brief encounters and connections but none have explored or explicated those connections as clearly and scholarly as Ward.

According to Ward, the connection between Huessy and Barth was more in terms of seducer/seduced. Huessy was the one who believed there to be strong connections between Barth and himself. He was the one that invited Barth to be become part of the Patmos group are not the other way around, which explains why it was easier for Barth to eventually throw up his arms in frustration and leave the Patmos group. It was not necessarily and ideology that he was giving too now readily understood. Although, as Graham points out in the book, Barth wasn't necessarily in as much disagreement as he supposed (a common character flaw that repeatedly kicked Barth in the butt and continues to Buffalo Barthian's that attempt to trace Barth thinking in connection to his contemporaries).

After sketching out the Patmos group, Ward presses on and examines Barth in relation to Heidegger and Buber (a phenomenological triad of thinkers who are on the logically bound yet analogically differentiated ad nauseam). After which, Ward moves on and begins to examine Barth in connection with Levinas, an interesting connection that deserves to be explored at further length. Levinas is then examined in connection with Derrida, another important connection that deserves to be explored further as well. After that, the connection than is rather simple: Levinas provides the theological connection between Karl Barth and Derrida. Up until this point in the book, I am in relative agreement with the author because so far no historical or analytical blunders have been made; however, Ward then makes a peculiar move whereby he brings Barth and Derrida into an imagined contemporeinity with the other. It is at this point the book seems to go to different directions. I began to feel as if I were reading/not-reading Calvino's If One a Winter's Night a Traveler.

By the end of the book, Ward concludes (?) that a Barth's logos theology is in need of a Derrida supplement. What! Basically, Ward claims that what the Barth upholds in Paradox must be unbound and rebound by Derrida. This makes no sense because that would mean a complete regression back to natural theology (a project completely contrary to Barth). It is understandable to say that Barth is finite and that the Dogmatics are not complete theology, a claim that Barth would admitted to and also a historical statement concerning the project of the Dogmatics, which remained uncompleted. However, to undue to the dialectical tension of the Christological paradox of both word and Word is to undue theology.

Yes, there may be systematic parallels between the way they think but that by no means launches Barth into the postmodern project, unless we are indeed defining postmodernism and simply on inherited modernism; but even then we are still operating on a thinking field of differentiation. The field may be modern, but the players may conflict (meaning one may be wrong and the other right). Ward ends up playing the part of the theological umpire whereby he declares both Barth and Derrida as complementary characters, even though they both play on opposing teams: both Barth and Derrida cannot possess completely validated actions, either Barth made it to home plate or Derrida caught the ball. However, by the end of this book Derrida is proclaimed "safe" and Barth "almost there!"

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